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NZALPA Frustrated At Misinformation On International COVID-19 Restrictions

16 August 2020

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) is frustrated about misinformation regarding international flight crew protocols and the conditions for pilots while operating offshore, including the number of freight services that continue to make sure New Zealand’s import and export industries are sustained. 

Pilots are among the most frequently tested New Zealanders for Covid-19 in the country. They take this position very seriously.


At all destinations they are in the strictest of quarantine amenities.


“New Zealand’s airline pilots are very clear on the strict protocols in which they operate to, but have become concerned about misinformation circulating that these conditions are less stringent than what they are in practice” said Captain Andrew Ridling, NZALPA President. 


Captain Ridling, who has just returned to New Zealand from an Auckland to Hong Kong service affirmed that “strict operating procedures included a Covid-19 test undertaken within 48 hours prior to departure to Hong Kong. 


“Once in Hong Kong pilots are tested again on arrival by the local health authorities.  We are then quarantined in the hotel room for the entire time we are there. We are provided with a ‘single-use only’ key to the room. 


“Personal protection equipment (PPE) gear must be worn throughout, including masks and gloves, while transiting between the Hong Kong airport and the Hotel, and then again on arrival in Auckland when pilots wear their PPE gear on and off the aircraft. 


“On flights to Australia pilots are very restricted in their movements from the flight deck and then currently travel directly back to New Zealand without disembarking onto Australian soil.  The turnaround time in Australia is generally less than an hour.


“On returning from The United States, there is a requirement for the pilots to isolate for 48 hours upon returning to New Zealand, undertake a Covid-19 test, and then continue to self-isolate until the test result is returned. This can take up to an additional 48 hours.


“For flights to Shanghai pilots are required to enter a Chinese government-run quarantine facility.  Whilst in the quarantine facility, pilots are locked in their rooms. They are fed set meals and are provided with very little in the way of amenities. Pilots are escorted to and from the quarantine facility and their aircraft by Chinese security and medical personnel using the same PPE procedures as is required in other destinations.


“To break these rules would lead to a severe custodial sentence which would be served in a Chinese detention facility.”


“There is certainly little opportunity or desire by our members to cut corners on flights to and from international destinations,” Captain Ridling said.


“Our members take their roles and their responsibilities to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus extremely seriously and understand the enormity of consequences. Like all New Zealanders our pilots have no desire to risk exposure to Covid-19 for themselves, their families or the community.”


For more information:  Lisa-Marie Richan 027 278 0441

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